Monday, January 22, 2007

Pickton Begins

Well, here we are.
Another hugely public trial.

Robert Pickton is on trial for the first six of twenty six murders of prostitutes on the Vancouver DTES (Downtown East-side). This one has been a long time coming. Five years since he was charged.

In that time I have had a few brushes up against the case.

Firstly - as things were heating up towards the conviction, I was involved in a one night performance of a short-play called 'Missing Women.' It was singled out as one of the highlights of 'Theatre Under the Gun' that year. I had participated the previous year and had fun, but this particular year the group I was in was made up entirely of men. The previous year there had been two groups which had proudly declared themselves theatre groups comprised only of women. And while I certainly have no issue with women taking a position of advocacy for themselves, we did feel it was somewhat important that therefore it ought to be perfectly acceptable for men to do the same with impunity. For the most part, our move was seen as what it was. Not many people were upset. Though it was clear that the expectation was that we were going to do something that fell into the category of 'collegiate humour.' I suppose large fraternal groups only have one possible trajectory in the minds of the many.
In any case, we didn't go down that road. We created a multi-levelled piece which acknowledged the absence of women amongst us as a group, explored the many possible iterations of what it could mean to be 'missing women' on a personal level, and on top of that, we hid gold when the day we went on, the dual headlines in the paper was the capture of the Green River Killer and a huge step forward in the DTES case that became the Pickton trial. This was particular gold for us in that we already had a format where the entire piece was framed with the eight of us, marching up and down the stage to a primal drum beat with our heads in newspapers. The timing - for us to be able to carry newspapers from the same day with headlines that perfectly fit the theme - put it right over the top.

Secondly - I also got to do a show (The Woman in Black) at the Terry Fox theatre, which is right around the corner from the Pickton farm. We were performing while the farm was being sifted for evidence. I believe the school that the theatre is a part of is even built on land purchased from the Picktons, and it's definitely new enough that there could be some disturbing artifacts buried beneath the foundation. Though presumably no-one would be that stupid - too easy for a body to be uncovered during the excavation process prior to laying the foundation, no?

In any case, the trial will be starting as I write this. The judge is probably setting the stage for the jurors and the media right now.

Should be curious. And as we have no death penalty, you know that after these six charges of murder, unlike Saddam, he will stand trial for the remaining twenty. Oh, the lawyers must have creamed their jeans when the trial got split - all the more money for them!

I kind of feel that few people are in doubt of his guilt right now. The simple fact that for five years they've been gearing up to this without being derailed by some sort of evidence is going to sway people. The real question is - just how badly is he going to be penalized? Which is probably moot beyond this trial. The chances of him getting a sentence that is anything less than the equivalent, if not actual, life without parole is slim to none.

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